If you've run, or are running, the London Marathon this weekend – or indeed any other marathon around the world – then you'll know one thing to be true: your feet are well and truly buggered.
From the small(ish) issues like blisters to more serious things like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures, running long distances gives your feet a beating.
But you already know that. In fact, you're probably cradling your poor bruised feet in a bag of frozen peas right now as they sob, "WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US?"
You're going to need a foot fix, stat. So we spoke to Margaret Dabbs, podiatrist and foot expert and creator of Margaret Dabbs, a brand dedicated to hand and foot care, to find out what's to be done about your battered feet.
What sort of footwear should people be wearing immediately after and in the days following the marathon?
Post-marathon your feet will be tender, throbbing and swollen. You may have damaged toenails which will be red and inflamed, and you may have blisters. Post-marathon it is wise to keep the feet bare as much as you can to avoid any additional pressure on the nails and skin. Wear flip-flops and open sandals if you need to go out locally and make sure you do not wear footwear which is tight, uncomfortable or causing irritation, pressure or pain.
Should you resist popping blisters (as hard as that may be)?
If you have a blister which is painful when you walk it will cause excruciating pain... until it is popped. The important thing is that the blister does not become infected and so if you can have this opened and drained professionally, under sterile conditions, then it is advisable to do this. If you must pop it yourself then always drain it at the bottom (to allow the fluid to run down and out) and use a pin or needle which has been cleaned with boiling water beforehand. Clean with warm salt water and apply a clean sterile dressing over the open blister. Keep the blister dry and use a dry antiseptic spray over the site. If the blister is irritated by general footwear use a Compeed blister plaster, as it will make it more comfortable and encourage healing.
Is there anything you can do to numb the pain immediately post-run?
Post-run an icy-cold foot bath can help to reduce inflammation and throbbing and it will also ease painful muscles, damaged nails and will reduce swelling. Bare Feet Cooling Foot Spray, available from M&S, will help to keep the feet cool, and soaking the feet with Margaret Dabbs London Hydrating Foot Soak will relieve puffy, tired and aching feet. Its signature ingredient, emu oil, helps to reduce bone and joint inflammation as well as any swelling of the feet and lower legs, and will hydrate the skin. It is also very relaxing after being on your feet for such a long period of time.
What if parts of your feet have gone numb?
Numbness of the feet can occur when you pound the roads and the feet can become compressed by footwear and socks. Footwear is very important when training long distances, and needs to be correct for your gait and running style and not over-worn as they still need to have a “spring” in them. Trainers need to be half a size bigger as the feet tend to swell. Once you are back home, take off your trainers and socks and exercise your toes by splaying them out and holding in this position for five seconds and then releasing them.
What should you do if you suspect you have a fungal nail infection?
The first sign of a fungal nail infection is discolouration of the nail and an alteration in the nail texture. A damaged nail can be more susceptible to a fungal infection so it can follow trauma, which is why looking after the feet while doing any sort of fitness training is key. The condition is always confirmed with the use of pathology studies and a course of laser nail fungal treatments can be started.
How long, purely for your feet's sake, should you wait before starting to run again after a marathon?
Your body will tell you when you are ready to run again, and everyone is different. It is worth having a small jog three to five days’ post-marathon, if you feel up to it. Pain is the biggest indicator and if you are in pain, don’t force it.